By Logan Barry for The Mechanicsville Local Nov 7, 2017
ASHLAND — Crowds of people and families sporting old-fashioned “train attire” attended the 15th annual “Ashland Train Day” along the historic downtown portion of the town’s railroad tracks on Saturday, Nov. 4. Event-goers were decked out in engineer hats, bandanas and bib overalls.
Despite the drop in temperature and the occasional rain sprinkle over the weekend, the large turnout at the seasonal community event confirmed its success.
Like fairs, there were food trucks parked along the tracks and in downtown parking lots and tents set up with the many railroad-related vendors and sponsors of the event.
At the event, live music was being performed throughout the day, as well as a classical model train set display, real rail equipment, exhibits showing railroad history, a scavenger hunt, moon bounce, children’s train rides, many mascots, including “Cinder and Tender Bear,” and fire trucks stationed for kids to get in and pull the horn.
Folks also were accompanied by the many CSX and Amtrak trains passing by all day, and were encouraged to wave to the conductors.
Ashland’s Train Day, an event hosted by the Ashland Main Street Association, celebrates the town’s rich heritage it has with the railroad. It started out as a recognition of the “Center of The Universe’s” history with trains at the Ashland Library, and, due to its immediate success and the railroad’s popularity with many local people, Train Day grew larger by the year until turning into an all-day community event.
Festival participant Tamara Aw said, “We had a fabulous time learning and exploring. Ashland is really a beautiful town. Train Day offered different options of things to do for the kids. The mini train stations were adorable … Everyone was informative and extremely pleasant; we were happy to have participated.”
Bill Gatewood, chairman on the AMSA Board of Directors, said that, despite the colder weather and spurts of precipitation, “We [had] a fantastic turnout. We’ve had some decent turnouts where it rained for two years. Last year was perfect, two years before that it rained – but we still had all of our die-hard people [come out],” Gatewood said.
He also talked about the scavenger hunt that took place during the festival, where people had tickets and they went around to different spots in the festival zone and got their tickets punched, and then, at the end, they drop them into a box inside Tiny Tim’s Trains & Toys, the toy store downtown.
“Then we have a drawing for a $500 train set,” he said.